PENSIVE by definition is engaged in, involving, or reflecting deep or serious thought. Feelings shared by all Triathletes on approach to swim-start.
We start with the Monument PENSIVE, she stands there, waiting for the race to begin, in her purple swim-cap, white goggles and sleeveless wetsuit. PENSIVE is captured in a full body stretch while gazing to the horizon in deep thought. "Did I train enough? Did I pack all of my nutrition? Are my bicycle tires properly inflated? Will I swallow any Hudson River water during the swim?"
PENSIVE is part of an overall composition of figures called THE SWIMMERS. Totaling 5 in all, THE SWIMMERS reflect the first stage of competition within a Triathlon event. The swim stage is full of preparation, reflection and emotion.
I wanted each figure to express the various states of mind before entering the water. Each state transitions into the next in a successive fashion.
4 1/4 feet Height by 3 1/2 feet Width
Winterstone, Stainless Steel, Cement, Paint
Purchase PENSIVE Poster
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The Process is an extensive one. Involving Drawing, Sculpting and Painting. Consisting of trial and error when working out the full composition, sculpting of body posture, anatomy, correct symbolic clothing, material, production and installation. The first stage was moving the idea from concept to reality. This involves the process of Drawing.
In PENSIVE my goal was to illustrate the race jitters by illustrating the questionable thoughts of race preparation. The check list of post race responsibilities, training assurance, rest assurance, diet assurance, swimming - cycling - running gear assurance. All the self-imposed questions and answers reflecting on training and practice leading up to swim-start.
I illustrated these conversations and emotions through PENSIVE's anatomical posture. The contrapposto pose is reflective of the stretching Triathletes engage in during swim preparation. The tension and the relaxed juxtaposition of being PENSIVE can be felt through arm stretching upwards and downwards as the hands lock and as her face gazes away into the distance.
Following a conceptual Drawing, the next step was developing a Maquette. This Maquette would be a fully materialized version of conceptual idea of PENSIVE, sculpted to reflect the intended composition, arrangement and supporting elements. This sculpted Maquette becomes the dimensional representation of my concept, allowing me to understand what the projected cost and build time will be for the final monumental version.
PENSIVE, started as a concept, evolving into a Drawing, is now materialized as a Maquette. Made of oven-baked clay with an underwire frame, she is painted to reflect the intended look and feel of the Monument version. She has been designed, sculpted and built to include magnets within her base, which allows me to further tweak her position in the overall composition.
Following the Maquette, I am now comfortable with moving into the stage of the monument size sculptural process. Since the monumental size sculpture requires costly time, material and energy, knowing that I worked out all my concepts in the Maquette give me the freedom to make creative adjustments without sacrificing or second guessing the conceptual foundation.
I seek out a model to represent PENSIVE. Within my circle of friends I chose a fellow Triathlete and Team Captain of my Triathlon Team. By prepping her on the feeling and meaning of PENSIVE, we went through a variety of poses and settled on a version of the Maquette's pose.
I photographed her with my smart-phone, making sure to gather enough photo reference for details of her face and body. These results allow me to combine my knowledge of figure sculpting, anatomy and the photo reference into the Monument of PENSIVE I envision.
The following is the sculpting process of Monument PENSIVE. Starting with the underline structure of a wire frame. This heavy wire allows me to first, create a anatomically correct supporting frame for the clay, second allows for further adjustment to the body composition by bending during any phase of the sculpting process.
Through various stages of the sculpting process I discover the true strength and balance of the pose, serving as a physiological foundation to the sculpture, this allows me to further refine the form and the details of the sculpture. Slowly building up the anatomical forms, I switch between my large sculpting tools to the smaller tools while working into the details. Working over a few days, and long hours, I execute the PENSIVE Monument with confidence and determination. Also being very mindful of my schedule, as I have the other elements of Transitions through Triathlon to produce.
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The Process of Casting is both extensive and laborous. It is technical process involving knowledge of material chemistry, temperature, timing and patience. At any moment, a wrong decision or neglect can result in extending the process or ruining your sculpture, so paying attention to the process is very important. I was assisted by casting technicians for my project. Parts of the process was done by the tech, my myself and also together as a team.
The Process involves first making a mold. For this sculpture, I've decided to make a 'waste mold' due to time and cost effective materials. A 'Waste Mold' is a mold that is destroyed and discarded during the casting process allowing for one unique copy of the sculpture.
Plaster was mixed then applied to the sculpture, sectioned by thin sheet of metal called 'shims'. The Plaster will cover the entire sculpture with a measure of 2/3rds thickness. Bendable Metal bars are attached using Burlap dipped into the Plaster Mix. When both the Plaster, and burlapped bars are dried, this becomes the 'Waste Mold' of the sculpture. This mold is pulled apart in its shimmed sections then cleaned from the inside negative area, removing excess clay from the original sculpture.
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Once the entire inside negative of the 'Waste Mold' is cleaned, the process of filling the mold can begin. I will first allow the mold to fully air dry and I will take this opportunity to create the metal supporting frame for the Monument. This involves accurate measurements and welding of metal. I am assisted by a Welding Tech for the cutting, measuring, bending, welding and grinding of this process. The resulting form is a strong underlining Metal structure for my monumental PENSIVE sculpture.
Now that the supporting frame and the 'Waste Mold' is fully dry, the process of filling the mold can begin. First the mold must be prepared for filling by applying Schellac and a separating agent to its negative layer. Wax Paste is used to cover the entire negative layer, head to toe. This separator will allow the Plaster mold to not adhere to the Winterstone material being used to fill the mold. Winterstone, a cousin of both Plaster and concrete, has the ability to achieve the sculptural detail of Plaster with the strength of Concrete.
Now that the schellac and wax paste is applied to all areas of the negative mold, the mixing of the water-based Winterstone starts. The instructions calls for measurements of water to different measurements of winterstone in addition to fiberglass material. Gloves and Masks are worn for safety reasons.
Once the first and second layers of Winterstone are applied, the metal frame is inserted into the largest section of the 'Waste Mold' and adhered to it using Winterstone and fiberglass strands. Each section is fused piece by piece until the entire mold is fused together as one mold. The Mold is left to dry then the process of removing the 'Waste Mold' is performed.
Removing the 'Waste Mold' involves a hammer and chisel, chiseling away the mold piece by piece in small, medium and large chunks until the underline copy is revealed. Extra care must go into the technique of how the mold is chiseled away, making sure one does not chisel too far beyond the mold and hitting the winterstone material. Losing valuable detail such as ears, nose or fingers can result in the lost of valuable time being used for repairs.
The 'Waste Mold' is now removed and discarded, revealing the Winterstone copy/ version of PENSIVE. The detailed areas will require extra care to remove smaller fragments of the 'Waste Mold' using picks and smaller chisels. After the figure is clean and prepared, it will move into the final Finishing stage.
Using my PENSIVE Maquette as reference, I know exactly what exterior finish I want to produce for the Monument PENSIVE. A variety of outdoor paints and weatherproof sealant was chosen for the finish. First, a coat of black paint is used for the under-coat, so when I apply the bright swimcap colors they will pop during observation. After the under-coat of black paint is applied, the swimsuit black, skin tone gold, and details of the timing chip, goggles and swim-cap are painted. The final touches go to the watch and lines of detail within the swimsuit design.
Once the paint is dried, the figure is coated with weatherproof sealant. I perform three coats of the sealant as I reminder of what Hurricane Sandy did to our city.
Installing PENSIVE and the other elements of Transitions through Triathlon at the Riverside Park South location was met with traffic and rain. Due to these challenges the installation was carried over into a second day. The Base Frame went into the ground first, firmly attached to the site with bolts and spot welds. Next the Arch was installed, using a hoist, rope, scaffolding and spot welding.
Then the following day, PENSIVE along with the other cast of SWIMMERS, CYCLISTS, RUNNER and VICTORY were spot welded to the Base Frame. Finally the day of completion has come. The last weld was met with a small applause by myself and the installation crew.